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“Charlie”

By Kevil Tice –

When I was a freshman in college, I started working retail at University Mall in Tuscaloosa. I immediately met several friendly co-workers, but no one sparked my interest more than Charles Bolin. He had a passion for the Arts, like me. He attended the University of Alabama, like me. He was fun and goofy and full of life, again, like me. On top of all of that, we had been living in the same apartment complex for several months and never crossed paths. Needless to say, we were instantly joined at the hip. He was my “Char-ralls” and I was his “Kee-vah.”

Charles grew up in Mobile where it was always understood that he would be the first member of his family to graduate from college, and that college would be The University of Alabama. With the encouragement of his mother, a creative floral designer, he took lots of art classes while growing up and his Christmas and birthday presents consisted mostly of paints and pencils. Charles transferred from a 2-year college to The University of Alabama in 1992 but wasn’t ready for the reality of a large university, so he joined the Navy.

After serving 4 years as an aircraft mechanic, including two deployments to the Persian Gulf on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, Charles returned to Tuscaloosa to finish his education.
He figured the best way for him to remain around art, feeding off and being inspired by other artists’ work, was to settle on Art History as a major. While studying at the university and working in retail, he volunteered at the Tuscaloosa Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, where he was lucky enough to learn more about T-town, promote the city to visitors, and lead tours of the Jemison Van de Graff home. After graduation, with no luck in finding a job in an art museum other than a paid intern position at The Mobile Museum of Art, Charles began working at the airport in Mobile.

Being fortunate enough to gain exposure to a wide range of inspiration, Charles continued creating art, usually as gifts for friends and family or just to decorate his own home. He said that he always managed to carve out a studio of some sort in all of his homes. His artwork reflects his fondness of eyes.

“I have been exposed to artists working from all sorts of inspiration. I believe this has given me a strong foundation and pool of influence from which to be inspired. I also believe this may explain why I seem to float from one subject, style, and/or medium to another, and back again, without a solid explanation.”

“A person’s eyes can convey so much emotion and meaning, I draw on that.  My art is often a personal form of therapy. Purging negative emotions or expressing positive ones on a canvas can be very rewarding.”

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“GRAY” (acrylic on canvas) – contemplative and enjoying a comfortable solitude.

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“BLUE SHOE” (acrylic on canvas) – This was the first painting that I ever did for sheer pleasure that sold. This one was part of a series of guitar pieces that were inspired while I lived in Austin, Texas, the “live music capitol of the world”. Blue Shoe was also the first of a loose, painterly style that I still enjoy.

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“CHITTO” (graphite on paper) – My grandmother was Native American, our family part of the Parch Creek Indians in Atmore, AL. This piece was inspired by that part of my heritage, of which I am very proud. “Chitto” is the Cherokee word for “brave.” I am proud to say that he holds a prominent place on my cousin’s wall in Mobile.

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“CLASS” (acrylic on canvas) – Inspired by Miss Billie Holiday and my love of the blues and soul. I am my own worst critic, but this particular piece is a source of pride, and I dare say, is beautiful. She hangs over my desk at work.

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“RED GLARE” (ink on paper) – This piece began as an experiment. The focus on my favorite feature, the eyes, is fairly obvious. It became the first of a series of ink paintings while I lived in Austin.

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“NICOLE” (ink on paper) – I worked from a photograph of an English fashion model, whose beautiful features called for a close-up portrayal.

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“EMILY” (ink on paper) – Emily’s eyes are full of mischief, and she seems to be another viewer favorite.

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“SAM” (acrylic on canvas) – The relaxed atmosphere is appealing, and I see again the comfortable solitude present in many of my works.

Charles currently resides in California where his home and office are both plastered with his art.  Although we haven’t seen one another in many years, we keep in touch, and I still consider him to be one of T-Town’s best artists.

Visit www.facebook.com/charliescanvas for purchasing inquiries or simply to check out more artwork by Charles Bolin.

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